Holly Richardson: All things denote there is a God — even ice

Ice pattern on Holly Richardson’s sidewalk. Credit: Holly Richardson, Deseret News
Ice pattern on Holly Richardson’s sidewalk. Credit: Holly Richardson, Deseret News
Ice pattern on Holly Richardson’s sidewalk. Credit: Holly Richardson, Deseret News

In a world that seems to always be in turmoil, with darkness and despair on the rise, beauty and joy are sometimes hard to find. They are there, but sometimes they are all too easy to overlook. 

It is winter in Utah, where I live, and right now, it’s cold. The roof of the garage shades the walkway in my backyard most hours of the day, so we take special care to keep it clear of snow and ice so my son does not get stuck in his wheelchair. I had to do a double take, then, when I walked by and saw artwork on the ground. Artwork? How could that be? 

As I stopped and looked closer, I saw to my amazement that this seemingly dry stretch of concrete was covered in a beautiful tapestry of ice. There were feathery filigrees fanning out across the path, and individual flower shapes that seemed set apart from the main pattern. The beauty was stunning. It could have been a Baroque tapestry or a Victorian-era wallpaper. Perhaps ice patterns were the inspiration for those very things.

I’m positive there is a scientific explanation having to do with frozen fractals and enough moisture in the air to produce ice on a seemingly dry, bare stretch of concrete. For me, though, that exquisite beauty testified of a divine Creator who loves beautiful things. In Alma’s beautiful testimony to Korihor, he says, “All things denote there is a God” (Alma 30:44). Icy lace handiwork included.

I think perhaps we are starving for reminders that there is beauty in this world, and that with that beauty can come joy. I shared one of the photos I took of the ice, on Twitter, where it got over 276,000 likes, over 15,000 retweets and over 1,300 comments. Many of the comments included pictures of their own, showing the beauty of ice patterns. 

It was a stream of reminders that not only is God the ultimate artist, but that we can and should be looking for moments of joy. They are there for the finding. In October 2016, President Russell M. Nelson noted that “the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.” How do we claim that joy? President Nelson tells us that Jesus Christ, the “author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2) is also the source of our joy. 

In April 2020, as the pandemic was just beginning, President Nelson reiterated his call to turn to the Savior, to seek earnestly to “Hear Him” in so many ways. Then, he promised our capacity to feel joy will increase, even if turbulence also increases in our lives. In fact, President Nelson has been speaking about finding and increasing our joy for decades as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and then President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If he said I could find it and laid out a path for me to follow, even through the mists of grief and anxiety and sorrow, then I have faith that I can find it. 

I look to Jesus. I look for Jesus. Like my friend Tammy Hall, host of “Sunday on Monday,” I have chosen the mantra “Find Jesus” this year. Find Jesus as I teach Gospel Doctrine in my ward. Find Jesus as the entire world deals with ongoing twin pandemics of a virus affecting our bodies and of contempt affecting our hearts. Find Jesus as a parent and grandparent. Find Jesus in my daily work as an editor of a political newsletter (admittedly difficult sometimes). And yes, find Jesus even in the delicate lacework of ice crystals on a sidewalk. He is there. 

— Holly Richardson is the editor of Utah Policy, a daily newsletter.

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